New pilot program will offer housing, resources to people leaving prison

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Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin speaks during a press conference announcing the Birmingham Reentry Alliance.

Mary Scott Hodgin, WBHM

Birmingham city officials and local advocates are celebrating the launch of a new pilot program to help people adjust to life after prison.

“Until now there has not been a coordinated, holistic approach to returning residents post-incarceration,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said during a press conference Wednesday. 

The Birmingham Reentry Alliance will provide housing, case management and links to services like health care and job training. The program is a collaboration among local nonprofits and government agencies, including the Offender Alumni Association, Aletheia House and the Birmingham Housing Authority.  

Officials plan to enroll 30 to 50 individuals during the first year, targeting men and women leaving prison with limited resources and plans. 

“Many people leave prison without a roadmap, not understanding what to do next,” said Ronald McKeithen, reentry coordinator with Alabama Appleseed. “Now, they’re going to have a beacon, somewhere to go.” 

The first year of the program is funded with $100,000 from the Regions Foundation and $50,000 from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. The money will help fund resources and employ a case manager to coordinate services. 

Program officials said they are visiting prisons to spread the word and will soon launch a website with more information. 

“This is about second chances and forgiveness, but it’s also about being really smart about public safety,” said Carla Crowder, executive director of Alabama Appleseed. “Because if people don’t have their needs met, if they’re hungry, if they’re unsheltered, if they don’t have a good job coming out of the Department of Corrections, that’s not good for public safety.” 

 

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